The Montana Portion of NREPA
Southwest Montana Wildlands
Southwest Montana takes in Montana’s largest national forest—the sprawling 3.3 million-acre Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest and the greatest acreage of unprotected roadless lands in the state.
Big Hole River
A number of conservation groups have proposed the controversial Beaverhead Deerlodge Partnership, which though problematic in some aspects, still makes a good start in identifying a number of important wildlands that deserve protection on this forest. Many of these wildlands form the headwaters of the famous Big Hole River.
Humbug Spires/Highland Mountains/Fleecer Mountain
Just south of Butte are three roadless areas that have important wildlands values. The 12,000 acre Humbug Spires, 21,000 acre Highland Mountains, and 36,000 acre Fleecer Mountain proposed wilderness areas.
The spires features many granite knobs that are a favorite for climbers while the Highlands feature flat-topped Table Mountain with expansive views. Finally, Fleecer Mountain is part of an important game range just north of the Big Hole River.
North Big Hole/Anaconda Pintler Wilderness
Starting in the north end of the Big Hole Valley, is what has become known as the 50,000-acre North Big Hole proposed additions to the existing 158,000-acre Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, which would expand significantly protection for the lower slopes of the range. This would secure some of the more productive lands in the valley, including the most important big game habitat.
Beavehead Mountains/Anderson Peak
Immediately south of Chief Joseph Pass, along the Montana-Idaho border and on the north end of the Beaverhead Mountains, is the 50,000-acre Anderson Peak Proposed Wilderness, a land of mostly rolling lodgepole covered hills.
West Big Hole
South of Big Hole Pass are the rugged glaciated peaks and more than 30 cirque lakes of the 130,000-acre West Big Hole Proposed Wilderness, including 10,621-foot Homer Young Peak, the highest in the range.
East of Wisdom is the 240,000-roadless acres of the West Pioneer Mountains, one of Montana’s largest roadless areas and another S.393 wilderness study area. The rolling forested mountains of the West Pioneers Proposed Wilderness top out at 9,000 feet. This area has been greatly impacted by ORV intrusions in recent years.
Directly east and across the Wise River, are the 145,000-acre East Pioneer Mountains Proposed Wilderness. The East Pioneers are extremely rugged, with many cirque lakes and glaciated high peaks including 11,154-foot Tweedy Mountain and 11,146-foot Torrey Mountain.
Big Hole/Tash Peak
The 50,000-acre South Big Hole/Tash Peak Proposed Wilderness, as its name implies, takes in the high peaks at the south end of the Big Hole Valley, including 9,800-foot Bloody Dick Peak.
The 90,000-acre Italian Peak Proposed Wilderness is part of a larger nearly 300,000-acre chunk of roadless country straddling the Continental Divide on the Montana-Idaho border. The lonely, but rugged limestone peaks, including 10,998 Italian Peak are reminiscent of the Canadian Rockies.
Eighteen Mile Peak
The lonely, but rugged limestone peaks, including 10,998-foot Italian Peak are also reminiscent of the Canadian Rockies. Other major peaks include 11,141-foot Eighteen Mile Peak.
The arid 83,000-acre Tendoy Mountains Proposed Wilderness west of Dell, Montana, consists of open grass-sagebrush slopes rising to the top of 10,000-foot mountains with pockets of conifer and aspen. The open country is superb for cross country hiking and excellent hunting terrain.
Lima Peak/Mount Garfield
The 42,000-acre Lima Peak/Mount Garfield Proposed Wilderness also straddles the Continental Divide, and includes 10,961-foot Mt. Garfield. This area features many aspen groves, along with patches of conifers intermixed with open grassy slopes that can be hiked for miles.
Ruby Range/Blacktail Mountains/Henneberry Ridge
Several other small BLM roadless areas are also found in this region including 27,000 acres in the Ruby Range east of Dillon, 15,000 acres in the Blacktail Mountains southeast of Dillon, and 12,000 acres in the dry, open limestone summit of Henneberry Ridge area, southwest of Dillon.